Friday, September 24, 2021
HomeNuggetsThe VV View: To Team Sky; "if in hole, stop digging"

The VV View: To Team Sky; “if in hole, stop digging”


It’s that time again when I go from being that old weirdo who’s always going to bike races no one has heard of to the ‘go to guy’ (I do hate that expression) – yeah, you’ve guessed; ‘Brailsford, corticosteroids, package, Sky, Wiggo’…

I’ve lived through all the doping scandals; Festina, Riis, Pantani, Lance, Tyler, Floyd and the fact is that just like that 1976 disco classic by Bugatti and Musker contends, ‘Ain’t no Smoke Without Fire.’

The pattern is always the same, revelation, vehement denial, steady drip of more damning facts and finally there’s a tearful confession or a ‘guilty’ verdict.

Can you remember one ‘doping scandal’ which ended with vindication and media apologies?

Me neither.

Team Sky
Dave Brailsford can expect the current controversy to dog Team Sky and British Cycling throughout the season. Photo©Martin Williamson

The only thing I can say to folks is that even if Sirs Brad and Dave, Doctor Freeman and Sky didn’t break the letter of the law then they certainly breached the spirit of what’s ‘correct’, as our European friends say.

And their handling of things subsequently for an outfit sponsored by one of the world’s largest Media organisations has beggared belief.

They’ve completely forgotten the old adage; ‘if in hole, stop digging.’

Because of Sky’s self righteous stance it’s now no surprise that the, ‘told you so’ brigade’ are loving it.

But as a friend said to me the other day; ‘if it does come out that they were knowingly doping, I’ll be gutted.’

Very sad.

Team Sky
Alan Baxter bought an innocuous product over the counter, which ingredients vary from country to country. Photo©Reuters

A point on this one is Stuart Anthony’s reminder to us about Alan Baxter; the Scottish skier who famously failed a drug test because he’s used a nasal decongestant purchased in the USA which – unknown to him – contained methamphetamine in tiny quantities.

That failed test cost him an Olympic medal; Sky’s defence of Simon Cope’s trip is right there; because of their attention to detail and worries about ‘contamination’ “they couldn’t risk buying the product abroad“. If only they’d had Stuart as their PR guy…

By the way, I have to say, Simon Cope is a good guy to spend an evening in the Vivaldi bar in Ghent with, irrespective of anything else.

And hasn’t our Brad been quiet through all of this?

Since his ill-advised ‘Braveheart’ post, we’ve heard nothing from the man who has an opinion on everything.

Wiggins Package
Sir Bradley makes fun of the issue on his Instagram account.

To paraphrase the Bard; ‘methinks the Mod doth protest too little.’

Team Sky
Arise Sir Bradley. Photo©PA

Knighthoods. Following on from the Sky mess one has to wonder if they shouldn’t kick back on the rush to ennoble people – the rule should surely be that the knighthood comes after retirement?

And how come the late, great John Surtees, the only man ever to win world championship on two and four wheels was never knighted?

Perhaps the Sky ‘carry on’ will serve warning that perhaps it’s best to wait a wee while before the top hats get hired?

But maybe it’s just me spending too much time with VeloVeritas prophet of doom, Viktor – perhaps we’re too old and set in our ways about how star cyclists should behave?

I read Chris Sidwells’ book ‘The History of British Cycle Racing’ recently and Mr. Sidwells tells me that Wiggo’s; ‘OK, we’re going to draw the raffle now’ performance on the Tour podium was ‘brilliant, vintage Wiggo.’

Yeah, it must be me and Vik who don’t get it, to us it was deplorable.

Cycling books, I’m addicted to them – but just when I thought I was ‘Lanced out’ Stevie Blom recommended Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell’s ‘Wheelmen’ to me, I’ve not finished it yet but there’s some real good new stuff in it thus far.

I read Christophe Bassons book too, ‘A Clean Break’ – I did like his description of Kelme; ‘The Little Green Men’ and Euskaltel; ‘The DDE’ that’s the French outfit which mends the roads and wear orange clothing.

Humorous names but both teams were feared in the mountains due to their lack of inhibitions about charging to the max. Changed days, we hope…

On that subject of changed days, I was reading The Comic (Cycling Weekly) t’other day and the headline; ‘Muller sets new Zwift record’ caught my eye.

Apparently ‘Zwift’ is a ‘virtual training world’ and Mrs. Muller sat on a turbo trainer in her house for 62 hours, four minutes and 30 seconds, covering 1,135.9 miles.

I have a question – why?

OK, let’s get positive, there’s been a lot of negs in this rant so far.

I was looking through some Scottish records preparing out recent Jim Gladwell interview and came across the fact that our editor, Martin Williamson is still a member of the Scottish record holding City of Edinburgh team pursuit squad from 1993, 4:42:42 – ‘nice one’ Mertin!

And we couldn’t fail to be impressed by Messrs. Archibald and Griffiths’ 19:49 in the ‘Icebreaker’ two-up 10 mile TT recently – wow!

Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne; we were there and fine races they were, restoring our faith in bike racing – cold, tough days but fast aggressive races reminding us why we love the sport.

Albeit Vik reckons they’ve become ‘glamour races’ and should be avoided – but we can’t agree with Vik on everything.

Pippo Pozatto
Filippo Pozzato keeps up to date in the Scottish Borders. Photo©John Young/FietsenPhotography

When were out there and having a beer in the Vivaldi we met up with Messrs. Stuart Anthony and John Young and we got to discussing that most important of cycling question; ‘who’s still cool?’

Boonen – of course, Demare, Ferrari, Sagan, Stuyven… but still none cooler than Pippo.

John sent me this image of the tall, lean, blond Italian on his way to the sign-on at of a Tour of Britain stage in Peebles six years ago.

It will send the road safety lobby in to an apoplectic fit but it just sums the man up; the coolest.

And finally, ‘get well soon’ to Sean Yates. There was an accident involving a tree, a ladder and a chainsaw – we’ll say no more, but he’s well on the mend.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.